How do we know the Bible is true? Take a moment and think about that before you keep reading.
How do we know the Bible is true? How would you answer that question when your neighbor asks you? How about when your kids or grandkids come home from college and tell you what they heard there?
As Christians, we obviously stake a lot on the truthfulness of the Bible. Why? Do we have good reasons to do so? Last month I encouraged you to start reading the Bible this year (if you haven’t already started). That would be a silly thing to do if it’s not true. What makes us so certain the Bible is true?
We’re tempted to give irrefutable personal reasons like, “I choose to believe” or “I just feel it in my heart.” These kind of answers get us off the hook because no one can argue with us. They can’t feel our feelings. It’s irrefutable because it’s personal. But it also does our neighbor no good. Again, they can’t feel our feelings. So we need a better answer, and we have a better answer.
The answer is really the same as how we know anything in the Christian faith—because Jesus died and rose again. He prophesied that he would be crucified and rise again on the third day, and then he made it happen. Our evidence is historical. The gospel records are by nature historical documents. They record the public teaching and activity of Jesus of Nazareth. They’re not forgeries written centuries later. We have too many early manuscripts for that to be possible. The textual evidence for the historical reliability of the New Testament is multiple times stronger than the evidence for any other book from the ancient world, and it’s not even close. What we have today is an irrefutably reliable witness to what Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter, Paul, James, and Jude wrote down in the first century. They recorded the eyewitness testimony of Jesus’ public ministry, including his teachings, his miracles, and even his resurrection from the dead.
And this is the clincher for us: the resurrection of the dead. Jesus publicly claimed to be God in human flesh. He publicly claimed that he would be crucified and rise again on the third day. Then he made it happen, and he appeared publicly to prove it. This is why we believe what Jesus taught.
But it’s not simply Jesus’ words that we believe. Jesus didn’t actually pick up a pen and write any of the Bible. It was the prophets and apostles who did that. We extend Jesus’ authority to the writings of the Old and New Testaments because Jesus treated them as Scripture. He treated the entire Old Testament as the trustworthy and authoritative Word of God. And he promised to send the Holy Spirit to his apostles so that they might record accurately what he had taught them. We believe their words on Jesus’ authority.
So the short answer is, we believe the entire Bible to be true because Jesus died and rose again. There is certainly a lot more than can be said—more than I can put in a newsletter article. If you have specific questions or objections you have heard, I would love to talk about it with you. There are also some helpful books I would recommend to you. Among them are Making the Case for Christianity by Korey Maas and Adam Francisco and The Reason I Believe by Allen Quist. Both are available from cph.org, among other places.
We have solid reasons for what we believe. Faith and history are not at odds with each other. Our faith is inherently historical. God has revealed himself in the flesh of his Son Jesus Christ. In this we have a sure and certain hope for this life and the next.
The peace of Christ be with you all,